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Elites and Politics in Central and Eastern Europe (1848–1918)

Edited By Judit Pál and Vlad Popovici

The volume deals with the evolution and metamorphoses of the political elite in the Habsburg lands and the neighbouring countries during the long 19 th century. It comprises fourteen studies, compiled by both renowned scholars in the field and young researchers from Central and Eastern Europe. The research targets mainly parliamentary elites, with occasional glimpses on political clubs and economic elites. The main subjects of interest are changes in the social-professional composition of the representative assemblies and inner power plays and generation shifts. The collection of studies also focuses on the growing pressure brought by emerging nationalisms as well as electoral corruption and political patronage.
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The Moravian Diet and Political Elites in Moravia 1848–1918

Extract

Jiří Malíř

“We assume that democracy is characterized, not by the absence of all élite strata, but rather by a new mode of élite selection and a new self-interpretation of the élite.”

Karl Mannheim,Essays on the Sociology of Culture (London, 1956), 200.

By the second half of the nineteenth century, modernization in the Habsburg monarchy had advanced to such an extent that at this point the widespread expansion of civic society began.1 Along with other consequences this process also brought a gradual shift in the elites. During the first half of the nineteenth century the traditional elites were still typical of the patrimonial society and the power structure of the absolutist state, and distinguished by unity in ancestry, property and prestige. However, they were gradually being replaced by new elites recruited for their abilities, education and level of public involvement in the emergent civic society.2 One essential factor in this development was the introduction ← 101 | 102 → of constitutionality, parliamentarianism and basic civil rights, as well as the more general development of public and political life, which ensured that the choice of elites would not be based on family and property alone but was also dependent on exceptional ability in industry, finance, trade and agriculture, as well as in academic and tertiary spheres, and public activity. Needless to say, this process was far from simple and straightforward. Under the heterogeneous social and national conditions of the respective countries of the monarchy, the status and...

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